Prep football: Gunnison Valley Bulldogs preview

The writing is on the wall for Jack Pay and his Gunnison Valley football team. And it’s not the bad kind.

The Bulldogs are primed to put themselves in a position to make a little school history. The best record for Gunnison Valley football was a 7-4 mark in 2005, so Pay’s group, which has a significant number of regulars from last year coming back, is taking aim at that — for starters.

“I think it’s an attainable goal this year. I expect to do well in the preseason,” said Pay, who also feels like three wins in region is a reasonable expectation.

The Bulldogs have eight returning starters on offense and eight on defense, although some of those players are regulars on both sides of the ball. And the remaining spots are being plugged with older players.

“I’m happy to say that we don’t have any sophomores or freshmen starting,” Pay said.

GUNNISON VALLEY BULLDOGS <br>Coach • Jack Pay, third year <br>Last season • 3-7, 2-3 in Class 2A North; Advanced to 2A opening round <br>2017 SCHEDULE <br>Aug. 18 • Milford, 7 p.m. <br>Aug. 25 • at North Sevier, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 1 • at South Sevier, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 8 • Enterprise, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 15 • at North Summit, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 22 • South Summit, 7 p.m. <br>Sept. 29 • American Leadership, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 6 • at Delta, 7 p.m. <br>Oct. 13 • Millard, 7 p.m.

Behind center • A big key for Gunnison’s Valley’s offense is the return of quarterback Kris Edwards (5 foot 11, 170 pounds), who threw for 1,821 yards as a junior. He also was the team’s leading rusher with 188 yards, but this is an area that could use more productivity. The team’s best yard-gainer a year ago (then-senior Kyler White) only had 254, so now it’s the turn of juniors Thomas Yardley (5-10, 170) and Braidon Beaumont (5-9, 180) to carry the ball.

Ball hawks • Senior Randy Maldonado (5-9, 150) is moving into the slot from running back and is expected to bolster a unit that already includes returning starter Mike Hansen (6-2, 170). Another senior, Syrus Miner (6-2, 170), is skilled at pursuing passes both offensively at wideout and defensively at cornerback. Also doubling in the secondary at strong safety is senior tight end Wyatt Young (6-2, 170). Junior Hayden Booth (5-10, 185) also is expected to be a target for Edwards.

In the trenches • It’s only at center where Pay doesn’t have a returning starter on the offensive line. Seniors Dallin Jackson (6-4, 255) and Isaiah O’Neal (6-2, 195) will play at tackle and guard on one side, while juniors Ty Hill (6-0, 260) and Kolton Petersen (6-0, 220) will line up on the other side. Justin Overall (5-9, 190) could get the nod to snap the ball. For defensive purposes, Hill and Jackson are tabbed to be tackles in the 4-3 scheme, while Petersen and Booth will be at defensive ends.

Hit men • O’Neal can ward off defenders offensively, but he also can chase and yank them down on defense. O’Neal registered 80 tackles as a junior at strong-side linebacker. Another big hitter on defense is Yardley at middle linebacker, while senior Alex Holder (5-9, 140) is expected to get the nod at the other linebacker spot opposite O’Neal. “They all come downhill really well,” said Pay, who will count on Hansen and Young to do the same at safety positions.

Key returners • Kris Edwards, Sr. (QB/DB); Isaiah O’Neal, Sr. (OG/LB); Mike Hansen, Sr. (WR/FS); Ty Hill, Jr. (OT/DT)

Key losses • Kyler White, WR/LB; Traeson Hatch, LB; Canyon Caldwell, WR/DB; Tyler Larrow, DB

The next wave • Braxton Sylvester, Soph. (QB); Chance Helms, Soph. (WR); Kade Sorensen, Soph. (WR); Kade Sanderson, Jr. (OL/DL)

from The Salt Lake Tribune


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